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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, April 17

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Andrew / March 29, 2006 11:15 AM

Question courtesy of Michelle, who asks, "Does anyone know of a decent mom-and-pop auto repair place? I've been taken for a ride by a few national chains lately. Help! Save auto-repair horror stories for another time - I need a good one!"

dan / March 29, 2006 11:21 AM

Yup, Rode Car Care in Morton Grove (near the Touhy exit of 94). (847) 583-0535. Rob, the owner, is a super-nice guy, who's been my mechanic for over 6 years. Call ahead though, as he's in demand.

Robin / March 29, 2006 11:24 AM

Russo's Auto Service in Oak Park, it's on Oak Park Avenue, just south of the expressway. It's a father & son operation -- not the cheapest but they do a really good job and are very honest about what needs fixing RIGHT NOW and what can wait.

Andrew / March 29, 2006 11:27 AM

When I had my VW Golf, I'd take it to Manfred's out in Cary. It's run by an old German, Manfred himself, and they only work on German cars -- VW, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche. You might get away with a SAAB or Peugeot, but don't count on it. They're very fair on price, and if they fix it, it stays fixed.

Phil / March 29, 2006 11:34 AM

Nortown on North Avenue.

Family Run, great place. I won't go anywhere else in the city.

amyc / March 29, 2006 11:38 AM

I second Russo's in Oak Park. They always did a great job on my car when I lived out there.

But I can't drive out to the burbs every time I need repairs these days, so I've been going to the Citgo (formerly a BP/Amoco) at Addison & Ashland. The company ownership has changed, but the mechanics are the same, and Louie has worked lovingly on my car for almost 6 years now.

o'brien / March 29, 2006 11:50 AM

the guys at gateway auto on division just west of damen are awesome.

Girl / March 29, 2006 11:55 AM

Joe's Expert Auto at Western and Elston! Joe is really friendly and will patiently explain everything about your car and what needs to be fixed. The labor is a little pricier than average, but totally worth it because you know you're getting good service.

uh uh / March 29, 2006 11:58 AM

What, and ruin the amazing turnaround time I get at my mechanic?

fsdlf / March 29, 2006 12:07 PM

A & A Automobile Service Inc
1045 West Washington Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60607

They're across the street from Harpo.

Just great people--two brothers own the place, and they're nice, funny, honest people, and they treated me well. When I had a car, I trusted them without reservation.

I also think their office could be a good sitom pilot--they always had a colorful cast of retired guys smoking and hanging around. Very funny place.

I had to kiss a lot of automotive frogs, too--I would avoid Western Auto Repair @ Addison and Western (I was asked to never come back to them because "I asked too many questions" about my car repairs). I think they're closing, and with good reason. They're awful, sexist "good old boys."

Click and Clack / March 29, 2006 12:30 PM

I take my car to three different places depending on what I need done, but I can't say who any of them are. Sorry. One in particular is already ridiculously busy because he is dirt cheap and won't fix things that don't need it. Sure, my brake pads are low ... but he knows I put less than 4K miles a year on the car.

I suggest Michelle go to the Car Talk web site. They have a section where people can recommend mechanics. Look for ones with lots of recommendations.

Bittersweet / March 29, 2006 12:35 PM

Albany Park Auto Clinic
(773) 588-5218
3848 W. Lawrence Avenue

My friend works at the shop and his father owns it. They helped me sell my minivan!

Spook on a bike / March 29, 2006 12:48 PM

I live in Logan Square and it seems like every body is a Mechanic with at least three cars being "fixed" infront on every block

paul / March 29, 2006 12:53 PM

In an alley near Ravenswood and Devon is a guy named Omar. No big sign, no big parking lot full of messed up cars. But his shop is emaculate, larger than it seems (huge paint and body shop behind the lifts) and he runs his business by word of mouth from customers who love him.

Personally, he's a little too expensive to use on my 16 year old jeep.

I use Gerry's Auto Repair, in Evanston. One guy (I think he has one guy help once in awhile) in the back end of a Quonset hut hidden away on a side street. Unbelievably honest, reasonable and a brilliant mechanical detective who was able to find puzzling vacuum line problems, electrical glitches or get my vehicle to pass emission inspection when other shops couldn't.

Some national chains are hit or miss. I did some corporate work for a large muffler chain years ago and got to visit a lot of shops in the area. Some of them were full of dedicated, meticulous workers who did amazing work and really knew their cars. I was so impressed that I took the jeep to the local franchise who somehow stripped the crap out of my steering box as well as the bolt on a stabilizer, screwed up my steering wheel so it was half a turn off, and lost 1 of my lug nuts. I could have done a better job on it myself.

brian / March 29, 2006 12:55 PM

I think the mechanic at Lawrence and Ashland has always done a fair job.

joshua / March 29, 2006 1:22 PM

MW mechanics on damen by the ravenswood stop.

they're quick, fair and extremely nice.

when they fixed my car, they did a wonderful job and even went above and beyond to paint and repaint (spending money out of their pockets) to match the tricky pearlized paint that my car has.

miss ellen / March 29, 2006 1:47 PM


herbie jr. & herbie sr. are the best. it turns out i lived two blocks away from this place for 3 years & didn't find out until i moved to logan square. no matter, i still drop my car there & just walk over to the california stop.

valencia service, inc.
1935 n. california

busted toyota / March 29, 2006 1:50 PM

once a tow truck made me tow my car to lawrence and ashland and they wanted to replace my alternator to the tune of $500. i called shenanigans and moved my car to my regular mechanic: ashland tire and auto a few blocks south. they informed me i didn't need a new alternator, replaced my battery, and i was out of there in 10 minutes.


m / March 29, 2006 2:01 PM

busted toyota, for what it's worth, yours is the third such story I've heard about Lawrence and Ashland.

bam / March 29, 2006 2:08 PM

Peterson in Skokie offers a fine value on SAAB service, as does Flikkema in Lansing. Perillo's fine for work under warranty, but don't pay 'em $115 an hour for non-warranty items.

Fans of German cars should talk to Bruce at Midwest Performance Cars (ex of Autohaus5) on Lake a bit east of Ashland -- if only I had known Bruce before I unloaded my beloved '73 2002tii.

Nortown is fine for installing tires, but buy 'em from the and have 'em shipped to Nortown for installation on the Hunter GSP9700 RoadForce. Easy way to save 15-30% per tire, get the exact tire you want (you do care about such things???), and have it as well balanced as possible.

Karen / March 29, 2006 2:09 PM

Ashland Tire and Auto, just south of Irving Park, is wonderful. I had a dealer tell me I needed an incredibly expensive repair -- But Ashland Tire told me it would be fine, didn't need to be replaced, and that it must have happened during an accident, something the dealer neglected to mention (which had happened years earlier) -- And they charged me NOTHING for this. I have about half a dozen other stories where they could have charged me for something, but were honest with me and didn't (patched a tire instead of telling me I needed a new one; told me that my brake light was on because of an electrical problem, and that I didn't really need new brakes, etc, etc). I LOVE them. Always courteous + quick service too.

Stephen / March 29, 2006 3:08 PM

I'll second bam's suggestion of Petersen Automotive in Skokie for SAAB service. I don't trust my SAAB with anyone else (other than myself!).

As for other service on other makes and models, I've been consistently happy with the honesty and fair price that Bucaro Brothers (2526 N Ashland Ave) has offered me.

hau / March 29, 2006 3:12 PM

m and busted toyota,

count another notch on the getting screwed by Lawrence/Ashland auto ...

don't get me started!

just had a fine experience @ Reliable Auto Repair at Ashland/Roscoe.

Paul / March 29, 2006 4:44 PM

Interestingly I will second Paul's opinion on Omar. My wife's family has been taking cars to him for many, many years and he's never played any tricks. Honest, good mechanic.

sam / March 29, 2006 4:45 PM

years and years ago when i didn't live in chicago... and i was visiting for i think the second time ever... my car developed a bad alternator and it wound up getting towed to I THINK lawrence and ashland... now i am wondering whether or not it was just a bad battery!

cm / March 29, 2006 5:37 PM

i'll second, third, whatever ashland tire & auto. never shifty, always good work and friendly too. awww...

uh uh / March 29, 2006 6:35 PM

Well since the cat's out of the bag...Ashland Tire and Auto rocks. Damn.

alice / March 29, 2006 10:27 PM

Kim's Auto in Glenview are very honest, nice to a fault.
Also Paul Ries and Sons on West Armitage were great.
I've had Sears and Pep Boys on Elston Ave. completely screw me over by pulling plugs and overcharging for "checks", then telling me I needed alternators replaced!

Steve / March 30, 2006 12:23 AM

I have to add to the huzzahs for Omar -- I'm gonna miss him when I move out of the city, but somehow driving an hour to see a mechanic when there's something wrong with the hoopty seems a bit wack. Not sure if he takes people without referrals, though.

As for Ashland Tire and Auto...oh man, let's just say you should never sell your car to one of their mechanics without removing the seemingly unremovable expired license plates first. Because if you leave them on, he may rack up hundreds of dollars in parking tickets and the city will make you pay, even after you tell them in parking court to run the VIN and show them that the car was no longer owned by you at the time the tickets were issued. Not that I'm bitter or anything, mind you, and I'm sure it's just the one guy who did this the one time and it shouldn't reflect on his boss and coworkers....

cory / March 30, 2006 8:10 AM

C-M Motors/IMPACT Collision on Damen, 4500 block of North Damen. Honest as hell, from my experience. Mike the owner is very friendly, they do good work and they wash our car whenever we bring it in. I think they even vacuum the interior!

Owner is Mike

Also, Import and Domestic Auto in Evanston always treated us well when we lived in E-ston.

lacey / March 30, 2006 9:49 AM

Well, I've only had major work done on my car at Lawrence Ashland, and it was fine (rear brakes DEFINITELY needed to be replaced, brake fluid everywhere). They threw in a free oil change later, too. I also like it because I can walk there easily.

If you just need an oil change, they will do it relatively fast and for about $17, which is crazy cheap next to the awful national chains that try to sell you a bunch of other stuff you don't need.

megan / March 30, 2006 10:13 AM

I realize this is a post about good mechanics, but:

amanda / March 30, 2006 10:17 AM

Rolf's foreign auto (or something like that) in Evanston, Dempster, west of Dodge. They are great. I had been taking my car to another place which kept magically finding more and more problems, and I kept getting poorer and poorer. Then, I felt like my clutch was going out (bad, bad, bad) and so i took it to the other place, they said, "you need a new clutch and it will cost you $1200" or something like that (can't remember how much). since this was a 1983 toyota that i had only paid $700 for in the first place, i decided it might be time to say goodbye to the car and live a car-free life. then, i took it to rolf's, they called back in an hour, they had oiled something up and cleaned something out, and it was good as new--$125 and i had my car back. They are sort of expensive for routine stuff, but in the long run, you'll save money because they know what they're doing and they're *very* honest. I don't have that car anymore (sold it) but we take our other car there now and have nothing but good things to say about them. Oh, and, they have free wireless in their lobby.

eep / March 30, 2006 10:19 AM

Thanks for the tip on Russo's in Oak Park. I only live a few blocks away, so it's good to know they're reliable if I should ever have big problems with my car.

This probably won't help much, but if you ever find yourself out in the western suburbs with car trouble, there are two dealerships out there with great service. The Chrysler Jeep of DuPage on Roosevelt in Glen Ellyn is great. The mechanics are good guys, and their service is great. Also, Tyson in Joliet is good, too. If you are going to take your car to a dealership for work, rather than a local place, I can't say enough for going to a top-rated dealership. They get their high ranking for a reason.

And as for a bad place, I'll also add my voice for staying away from that shop at Lawrence & Ashland. My friend had to take his car there several times for the same problem, and they were going to charge him hundreds of dollars to fix something they "fixed" only a month earlier. He had to argue with them for hours to get them to repair the shoddy job they did the first time around. Shady.

Nat / March 30, 2006 11:07 AM

For the Wickerparkers, I'm very happy with Arman's Import Auto Repair (1661 N Milwaukee Ave). The shop is clean, Arman's a nice guy, prices are reasonable, and they're open afternoons and on Saturday, which is absolutely necessary for me. He seems to prefer working on German and Swedish cars, but he's been known to do Toyotas, FWIW.

Also, if your check engine light comes on and you want to diagnose it without dealing with a garage/paying labor charges, any of the Murray's Auto Parts in the city will rent you a diagnostic scanner, gratis, as long as you put down a deposit. Perfect for resetting the light before getting your emissions checked, for instance.

Ron / March 30, 2006 11:56 AM

Mike and Sons
6333 Ogden Avenue


Awesome service. Solid shop.
The best part is
You get to tell your friends
When they ask where you're going

"Berwyn, baby"

ellie / March 30, 2006 12:42 PM

I second Paul Ries and Sons (but I've only been there for body work). Good quality work at great prices.

Kim / March 30, 2006 12:48 PM

Ashland Tire & Auto = teh suck. I used to go to them but the last time I took my car in they told me I needed new tires and that my brakes were shot! I took it elsewhere (2 different shops) and they both said that neither was necessary - that I needed an alignment and new brake pads, not tires and new brakes. Never, ever again.

My new mechanic is Runge up in Rogers Park, 7478 N Rogers. Love them.

Beth / March 30, 2006 12:49 PM

I'll second the place on Damen just north of Montrose (I think CM Motors sounds right - it's on the west side of the street).

My brother took his car there because the steering wheel wasn't turning one night. The guys put the car up, dug around a little, and out dropped a dead rat. Turns out the rat had gotten in the car and gotten stuck on the belt that does something about the steering, and got its neck snapped when my brother tried turning the wheel. The guys fixed it and didn't charge him a dime.

And several other people have recommended it.

Ralph / March 30, 2006 3:08 PM

Mike and the Mechanics are totally my faves! Yeah!!!

K.S. / June 4, 2006 9:56 AM

I agree, Lawrence Ashland is a major scam. We had our car towed there because we are AAA members. Ever since we brough our car there the check engine light "conveniently" comes on the next time we drive it. We bring it back and they give us some song and dance...saying it is a "new part" or sometimes they say there is something actually wrong with the car and they need to fix it. After about the 3rd time of this crap we are going to stop going there. They are extremely slow and expensive. Oh, and I have also had to take the car back for things they said they fixed and did not fix.

CDF / July 4, 2006 10:25 PM

For Hondas and Acuras, HAAS (Honda and Acura Auto Service) is fantastic. They're on Montrose just east of the Kennedy Expy.

Pat / August 21, 2006 9:17 AM

CDF is right. HAAS has always provided great work, honest opinions and reasonable prices. Bob and his group have had our honda service for over tenyears. and we don't live in Lincoln Square anymore - we still drive into the city to have them work on our cars.

Graham / August 21, 2006 4:52 PM

Omar is awesome. Does anyone have his phone number? How about the name of his shop? He fixed my car about 4 months ago and I need an oil change now. Please help me. 312 807 4255 or Thank you.

Peter / January 24, 2007 12:03 PM

I have been bringing my cars to Rolf's Foreign Repair in Evanston for nearly 20 years now. They're scrupulously honest, no-nonsense and stand by their work. If you're in the northern burbs, do yourself a favor and check them out. I've tried dealers in the area once in a while (for convenience) but got robbed more often than not. Got a shop you trust? Stay with them! If not, here's some info on Rolf's (click here for their web page).I told my family and my friends to go there, too - and they're all still speaking to me.

Gloria / February 3, 2007 10:03 AM

Could someone provide Omar's shop name or phone number?


Paul / February 10, 2007 11:39 AM

In response to an advertisement, I tried Central Park Service (Central at Central Park, Evanston, 847-869-0076. They conducted themselves in a professsional manner from start to finish. Rear brake job on a Ford Ranger compact pickup (new shoes, new slave cylinders, turned drums) for $310. In at 8:00; done at noon. I would like to hear of other experiences with this business.

Paul / February 10, 2007 11:39 AM

In response to an advertisement, I tried Central Park Service (Central at Central Park, Evanston, 847-869-0076. They conducted themselves in a professsional manner from start to finish. Rear brake job on a Ford Ranger compact pickup (new shoes, new slave cylinders, turned drums) for $310. In at 8:00; done at noon. I would like to hear of other experiences with this business.

Liz / March 1, 2007 6:24 AM

A & A Automobile Service Inc
1045 West Washington Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60607

The service from these guys is amazing. Not only have they performed repairs very reasonable that would have cost me $$$$$ at the dealership, they are upfront, honest and very patient is explaining what repairs need to be done and WHY. These guys have my complete trust when it comes to my car. And, they do have a whole bunch of funny old men that hang out in their really would make a great sitcom.

susie / April 27, 2007 5:50 AM

Mike at CM MOtors on N Damen is fantastic...honest, super friendly and does great should go there...really trustworthy!

John / June 8, 2007 2:12 PM

C-M Motors Impact Collision center on North Damen Ave in Chicago. The owner Mike wrote an estimate for me. I had been to two other shops, and both wanted nearly $1500.00 and were charging me to repaint the side of my car. Mike from C-M told me that the scratches could be sanded & buffed, his estimate was under $300.00, and sure enough, the car looked GREAT! It's really refreshing to find honesty after having been lied to and exaggerated by two other places. I highly recommend C-M

BWV / June 22, 2007 2:16 AM

I emphatically concur with an earlier comment on this list: Do yourself a favor and STAY THE HELL AWAY from Bucaro Bros. on Ashland (between Diversey and Wrightwood).

Nicole Milman / August 26, 2007 12:44 AM

Hello, I am new to the area - I live in Oak Park but would be willing to travel. I am about to purchase a 1998 VW Jetta and have been a bit scared by blogs warning me of the endless repairs the car will need. I am therefore interested in finding a good, reliable, honest VW mechanic in a 25 mile radius who won't take me for a proverbial ride. Thanks!

Nicole Milman / August 26, 2007 12:44 AM

Hello, I am new to the area - I live in Oak Park but would be willing to travel. I am about to purchase a 1998 VW Jetta and have been a bit scared by blogs warning me of the endless repairs the car will need. I am therefore interested in finding a good, reliable, honest VW mechanic in a 25 mile radius who won't take me for a proverbial ride. Thanks!

Mark / September 3, 2007 8:39 PM

I found it really interesing reading to see my repair shop of choice, C-M Motors on Damen in Chicago as being so popular. My entire family has been going to Mike for over 20 years, and even though half the family now resides in the far burbs, we tried the rest but came back to the best. He's more then worth the ride in, as we consistently are treated as family, with great prices and the highest of quality work. We have always agreed on everything, as families never seem to do, but on the use of C-M Motors, we ALL agree...none better no matter where we've looked.

Lohness / September 15, 2007 9:05 AM


anne / August 29, 2008 12:11 PM

Omar is at O & J Auto Repairs

it's in the book.

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